Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista, CA

Exploring the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista

The Living Coast Discovery Center (Chula Vista Nature Center), located on Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge on beautiful San Diego Bay, is a globally renowned zoo/aquarium showcasing plants and animals native to San Diego Bay and marsh/wetland habitats. The Chula Vista Nature Center is committed to serving the public by providing a high-quality nature center/living museum experience and supporting coastal resource conservation and environmental stewardship through education.

What do you see there?

The Nature Center has a number of exhibits that feature the plants and animals native to San Diego Bay. Aviaries feature shorebirds, raptors and burrowing owls. The gardens around the museum display plants that are native and drought-tolerant. Plants are also selected for their wildlife values.

Are there sharks at the Nature Center?

You bet! Sharks can be found at the David A. Wergeland Shar and Ray Experience. This state-of-the-art super aquarium includes a shallow-water touch tank where visitors can get “up close and personal” with sharks and rays, and a deep water free-swimming area for larger sharks and rays. The exhibit interprets the importance of coastal wetlands and the need for all of us to be custodians of our natural environment.

What else will the kids like?

The Wergeland Family Discovery Center features a number of interactive exhibits: Turtle Lagoon lets you experience a dramatic encounter with endangered Green Sea Turtles. Bay Zone exhibits include a 500-gallon schooling tank; a 2,500 gallon, multi-species bay community tank; a 300-gallon Moon Jelly exhibit. In Marsh Zone you will find Fossil Bay; a 2,500-gallon marsh community tank. In Upland Zone discover the natural habitat of our local Rainbow Trout in Steelhead Creek; as well as other upland animals.

Don’t forget the nature trails

The Living Coast Discovery Center offers guided tours for active adults. These tours include an overview of the history of the Sweetwater Marsh, Gunpowder Point, and the Nature Center; a discussion of our special programs, particularly captive breeding of endangered species; and a guided walk through the aviaries and gardens and on the trails, if desired. Most groups either bring their lunches to enjoy on the deck or they utilize one of the popular restaurants located on Bay Blvd. Nominal admission fee.

Where is the Nature Center?

The Chula Vista Nature Center is located on San Diego Bay approximately seven miles south of downtown San Diego and seven miles north of the international border. Access to the facility is available from the public parking lot via free, convenient shuttles.

How to get there

From Interstate 5, take the E Street exit in Chula Vista, go west and park in our free parking lot at the corner of E Street and Bay Blvd. (across from Anthony’s Fish Grotto). Regular shuttle service will run from this site every 15 minutes.


Take the San Diego Trolley to the Bayfront/E Street Trolley Station and stop at the Visitor Information Center to request our shuttle.

Living Coast Discovery Center
1000 Gunpowder Point Drive
Chula Vista, CA 91910-1201

The Living Coast Discovery Center is often overlooked as a family friendly destination because it gets crowded out by its bigger competition like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, the Wild Animal Park and even Birch Aquarium. But it is one of the area’s hidden gems, and worth seeking out.

With much of the San Diego Bay shoreline developed, it is important to see our local wetlands in its natural state, and the Nature Center provides us with that glimpse. The Nature Center is also a favorite birding area for bird watchers.

Normal Hours: Open 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Tuesday through Sunday. Last shuttle to the Center is at 4:00 P.M.

Admission Prices: $6.00 Adults (18-54), $5.00 Seniors (55+), $5.00 Military, $5.00 Students (18+ w/ID), $4.00 Juniors (12-17),$3.00 Children (4-11), Free Children (under 4)

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